Chambers Bay Gets A New Development Plan And Boy Has It Been Losing A Lot Of Money...

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Thanks to Aaron Levine for Tweeting several elements to the recent vote to add a new hotel and other amenities to boost 2015 U.S. Open host Chambers Bay, including this VERY detailed op-ed by a councilman explaining the vote for a new deal.

Included in that commentary are financials, talk of the new restaurant where the 9th tee sits (Not Jason Day’s Cafe!), but it’s mostly shocking to see the drop off in revenues since hosting the U.S. Open. High-end daily fee just isn’t what it used to be.

There was also a fantastic bit of controversy, with John Ladenberg, part of the original development, pushing an anti-development petition. His wife sits on the council, which prompted a lively back and forth!

Considering The Chances Of Another Major At Chambers Bay

For anyone hosting a major or thinking of doing so, Tony Dear's Links piece is worth a read given the high-profile Chambers Bay experiment.

As the story notes, it succeeded on the financial and ratings front, but agronomically left a scar that is now being rectified by a creative conversion to poa greens.

Since June 2015, Johnson has increased cultural inputs (mowing, rolling, fertilizer, pesticide, water) to favor annual bluegrass establishment, and is seeding the greens with the only commercially available annual bluegrass turf—Poa reptans Two-Putt. “The good news,” he says, “is that it establishes pretty well. The bad news is that its prolific seedhead production in the first year or so gives the greens that blotchy appearance.”

Johnson has also begun saving and analyzing clipping yields from the greens in an effort to monitor growth and make better decisions on when to cut, seed, fertilize, and irrigate. “Every-day play is our focus as a public course,” he says. “I want smooth greens as well as consistent speed and firmness.”

On the financial side, Chambers continued the trend of public-access venues raking in more money for the USGA (we won't know how Erin Hills fared for a while):

According to its Annual Report, USGA revenue from its Open championships (U.S. Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Women’s Open) in 2016, when the U.S. Open was played at Oakmont, was $53.3m. In 2015, it was $64.3m. 

The irony in all of this is that Chambers would make a great PGA Championship venue...in August. May? Not so much. Though still certainly doable and capable of bringing big energy and bigger West Coast ratings.

Where DJ Went After The 2015 U.S. Open

That 18th hole three-putt ultimately changed Dustin Johnson's career for the better, leading him to vindication at Oakmont in 2016 and earning him Golf's player of the year and an Alan Shipnuck profile.

There is a lot to take in--if you can pop some dramamine to deal with the jittery webpage--including where Johnson disappeared to instead of attending the trophy ceremony. He had to pack the family car for Gozzer!

That night, the family retreated to a rental home to gather their belongings; they'd be flying to Gozzer for a previously scheduled trip. Johnson insisted on carrying out all of their suitcases and loading them into SUVs. When Wayne expressed concern about Johnson's back, the golfer shot back, "After the way I played today, this is what I deserve."

The next morning, at 7 a.m., Wayne teed off at Gozzer with his cronies, a sprawling group that includes Mike Mattivi, a 16-handicapper who is also a part of the regular games at Sherwood. Johnson said he would join them on the first tee, but no one was surprised when he didn't show. They were in the second fairway when a ball whistled over their heads. "We all knew it was Dustin," Mattivi says. "He comes roaring up and says, "I told y'all to wait for me!" After what he had just been through at Chambers Bay, I was shocked. Most guys would spend a week in bed, hugging their pillow, but this kid loves the game so much he didn't want to miss out on the fun."

The second hole at Gozzer Ranch is a 589-yard par 5; Johnson smashed an 8-iron to four feet for an eagle try. "He's standing there waiting for us to give it to him," Mattivi says. "And one of our buddies goes, "Dustin, that would normally be good, but since you missed one about that length 12 hours ago, you're gonna have to putt it." Dustin laughed so damn hard. He knows we love him no matter how many 4-footers he might miss."

Chambers To Get Boutique Hotel It Needs To Land Another Major

Brynn Grimley reports on the selection of a local team to build a resort-style hotel, restaurant and villas at Chambers Bay. While getting the turf a little stronger is a priority for some and stadium mounds that actually work (unlike the ones RTJ envisioned), we all know by now the real key to landing a repeat major centers around high-end lodging for the decision-makers.

This should help:

Led by Dan and Tom Absher, of Puyallup-based Absher Construction, and Dan Putnam, who previously was CEO of structural engineering firm PCS Structural Solutions, Chambers Bay Development used the local angle in its pitch. Also included is Columbia Hospitality, Kemper Sports, GGLO Architects and Douglas.

Putnam and the Abshers say they view the project as a legacy, something they would remain a part of after construction.

“I think they understand the Pacific Northwest,” said county Parks and Recreation director Tony Tipton. “The end product will transform into something this community can be proud of.”

The plans are conceptual, which means architectural features and smaller details are likely change as the project moves through the permitting process.

Rory: “Back to a nice traditional U.S. Open, not like we’re playing on the moon this year.”

From Brian Wacker's GolfDigest.com assessment of the state of Rory McIlroy comes a fun line from the lad after a rough week at The Players, indicating the lingering resentment toward the Chambers Bay setup a year later.

He won’t have to wait long for another crack. McIlroy’s next start comes this week at the Irish Open, followed by the Memorial tournament two weeks later, and then the U.S. Open two weeks after that.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said of the year’s next major. “Back to a nice traditional U.S. Open, not like we’re playing on the moon this year.”

State Of The Game Podcast 63: Iain Carter & The 2015 Majors

Looking at the major winners over the last decade, there have been some great years though on closer inspection, each has its events that look less-than-satisfying in hindsight.

As we discuss with Iain Carter, author of The Majors, the BBC golf correspondent picked a very good year to write a book about the men's Grand Slam events. Because history will look very kindly on the year. Even with Augusta being way too green, Chambers Bay too brown, St. Andrews' greens were too fast and Whisting Straits apparently defenseless (though who knows how anyone breaks par there!), the players picked up the slack for the governing bodies and delivered four very memorable weeks.

Carter joins us to discuss the season, his book and the upcoming year.  Happy listening via your free podcast app subscriptions (hopefully auto downloading), at iTunes, on the show page or as an MP3 download.

Or below:

R.I.P. Jamie Fay

Alexis Krell of the News Tribune with the horrible news of Jamie Fay's passing. He was the asst. GM at Chambers Bay, who also worked at Bandon Dunes prior to his tie at the 2015 U.S. Open host.

Fay was killed by a falling tree during a recent windstorm in the University Place area. His daughter was with him by unharmed.

Aaron Levine of Q13Fox files this remembrance of Fay:

And as our thoughts go out to his family, it also goes out to the entire staff at Chambers Bay – clearly a tight-knit group that went above and beyond in the lead-up to and aftermath of the U.S. Open in June.

Even Michael Greller, current caddie for Jordan Spieth and a former caddie at Chambers, tweeted his condolences this morning. I spoke to Greller this afternoon, and he described Jamie as “a gentle soul with an infectious smile” – a man, in charge of coordinating Greller’s wedding at Chambers Bay, who went out of his way in taking care of the smallest of details. Greller says he’ll write something on his hat next week in memory of Jamie as well.

There is a GoFundMe.com page devoted to raising money for Fox's wife and two daughters. I went through the process and it's remarkably easy, if you have the ability to make a donation.

On August 29th 2015 Jamie was coming home from Costco with his daughter, Eilee, when a tree fell on the car. Both were taken to the hospital. Thankfully Eilee only had a few bumps and bruises, but Jamie was taken from his family too soon. Jamie was a wonderful guy with a goofy sense of humor that delighted his daughters, and a love for his wife that was steady and strong. His passing was abrupt and unexpected, leaving behind 2 young daughters and his wife, Jen. Jamie was the sole breadwinner of the family. Please consider donating to help his family financially through this unimaginably difficult time. Money will go towards funeral expenses, food, and basic necessities. We can't help their grief or pain, but we can help lightened the financial burden, leaving Jamie's loved ones with one less thing to worry about.

Jordan Spieth's Winning Moment, In Sepia

As noted in this item for The Loop, the moment we've sometimes come to know at the U.S. Open where a player realizes he's won and is embraced by family, appeared lost behind a scoring trailer door at Chambers Bay.

But Darren Carroll was working for the USGA and explains in this item how he decided to slide in just in case Spieth's moment happened. The rest is history, as this excellent slideshow reveals.

Under Armour CEO Is Really Liking His Jordan Spieth Deal

The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg sums up the post-U.S. Open comments of Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, executive Ryan Kuehl and Spieth in the wake of a second straight major.

Spieth's rise is only encouraging the company to expand their golf offerings as the industry shrinks.

“He’s a special guy,” Plank said. “He’s going to win a lot of golf tournaments, and that’s going to end up costing us a lot of money at some level, but I’d say it’ll probably be some of the best money we ever spent.”

Plank, in the interview with WJLA, also says this. Translations welcomed.

“Look, culture eats strategy for breakfast,” he said. “Culture isn’t something you just wake up and decide you’re going to be one day. It’s like trust; it’s built in drops and it’s lost in buckets. And you know the kind of people that will help add to that, that will add drops. And Jordan was one of those special, unique people who was a team sport athlete.

“When him and his father came up…two or three years ago, and we sat there having a conversation about how would you like to turn pro and be an Under Armour guy, he just said look I am an Under Armour guy. I am an athlete. He goes, ‘I’m your golfer.’ “

Spieth is the cover boy and center of Golf Digest's July issue, with a pre-U.S. Open profile by Jaime Diaz worth a look. Especially now.

Like all game-changers, Spieth benefits from timing. Just as Palmer was a welcome change from the grim excellence of Ben Hogan, so is Spieth a respite from the distant reign of Woods.

"Tiger's time of domination was overall great for golf but difficult in terms of interaction with fans, sponsors and media," says Seth Waugh, former CEO of Deutsche Bank, sponsor of the Deutsche Bank Championship. "In his defense, as the biggest guy on the planet, he felt he needed a shield to protect himself from an invasive world. Everybody assumed that because he was winning everything, the model of focusing only on your game and not really engaging with people was necessary to be a champion. From a player's perspective, it was the perfect excuse not to do the harder stuff, like stick around to sign autographs. But then the financial crisis hit, and it became clear that the harder stuff was a big part of why a corporation would spend $10 million to put on a week of golf. When Tiger and the notion of universal entitlement simultaneously fell from grace, players realized another model might work better, not just for themselves, but for the game."

Billy Horschel Apologizes For His U.S. Open Antics

Still a big post-U.S. Open topic of conversation was Billy Horschel's on-course antics even as he was torching the place with a strong final round.

While Horschel calmed down to make some more eloquent post-round comments about the U.S. Open greens, most took notice of his on-course boiling over.

At the Travelers Championship, Horschel apologized and also revealed that he had a long chat with Mike Davis to explain his views.

ESPN.com's Jason Sobel reports.

"We talked about my comments; he totally understood them," Horschel said of the conversation. "He admitted that the greens weren't what they wanted and he was sorry for that. He knew the greens were at a level that the USGA wasn't happy with and said that if they ever go back there, they know what to do."

Their conversation lasted "about 15-20 minutes" and never got contentious. In fact, Horschel suggested that it was just the opposite, two men having a respectful discussion with each understanding the other's viewpoint a little better afterward.

Here's the viewpoint: Mike thought Billy acted like a jerk, Billy thought the greens stunk. All better now!

Shark To Gary Player: I'll Take That Lie Detector Test

In the wake of Gary Player's anti-Chambers Bay, anti-USGA golf ball rant last Saturday in which he inferred that the Fox announcers touting the course couldn't pass a lie detector test, The Great White Shark has finally seen the Player comments (quick on the hip take our Shark is) and he says he'd be happy to take a lie detector test.

Great to know Norman is a big fan of Robert Trent Jones' work, even if he thinks it's heather-light.

The rebuttal Tweet...about four days too late: